A range of causes were discussed, including lack of support within workplaces, unrealistic pressure and deadlines, and working unsociable hours.
How can businesses help with mental health?
In 2017 the government and Mind worked together to review the role employers play in supporting mental health problems in the workplace. Among the findings, it revealed that poor mental health was costing the economy between £74 and £99bn per year, with 300,000 people losing their jobs due to a long-term mental health issue.
In response, it was recommended that businesses introduce six ‘Core Standards’ to better manage mental health:
- Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan
- Develop mental health awareness among employees
- Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling
- Provide your employees with good working conditions
- Promote effective people management
- Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing
There’s a natural role for communicators to support this, using their skills to promote messages around mental health to people within the business. However, it is important to recognise that they may also need support too, which is where the CIPR guide comes in.
What does the CIPR guide add to the mental health debate?
The guide outlines five recommendations for organisations and managers:
- Follow the Core Standards mentioned above: Mind has a guide on how to implement them here
- Train managers around mental health: for example, there are mental health first aid courses (something that the team at my workplace have all completed)
- Promote a culture of open and supportive communication: encourage staff to speak up if they are dealing with a problem and need some help
- Sign up to the Time to Change Employer Pledge: designed to help reduce the stigma around mental health by raising awareness of the topic
- Promote an effective work/life balance: understand that people have lives and commitments outside of work that are important to them
independent pr practitioners are covered too
It was great to see within the guidance five further tips specifically aimed at individuals and independent practitioners. It focuses on the fact that working alone can be isolating, with people missing out on work-based support, and that it can be difficult to get structure in the day. Other topics explored include ‘buddying up’ (with a reference to the CIPR’s Independent Practitioner Network), taking social media breaks and the importance of separating your work and home environments.
Further resources are included at the back of the guide to help individuals and businesses manage mental health effectively. For my own tips, you can read my blog: PR’s mental health issue – and six tips to improve yours.